FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Razzennest (2022)

The description for this movie is, of course, just to trick you into this surprising film: “South African enfant terrible filmmaker and artiste-cineaste Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) meets with Rotten Tomatoes-approved indie film critic Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) in an Echo Park sound studio. With key members of Manus’s crew joining, they record an audio commentary track for his new elegiac feature documentary Razzennest. But the session goes down a different path. The ultimate elevation of arthouse horror, just not as you might expect.”

You can say that again.

Directed and written by Johannes Grenzfurthner, who also created the astounding Masking Threshold, this is a movie that literally plays with the way that we embrace physical media — commentary tracks if you need to be triggered by your love of being surrounded by stacks of plastic cases and disks — in an exciting and senses destroying way.

Grenzfurthner said of this film, “Razzennest not only gave me the unique opportunity to write a love letter to genre films and rain ridicule on pretentious arthouse films, but also to write a love letter to arthouse films and mock the inherent problems of genre films. It allowed me to realize my decades-old dream of making a film about the Thirty Years’ War and its endless atrocities without needing a budget of millions of dollars to depict the war’s bloody significance. Also, Razzennest provided an exciting chance to portray a fascinating landscape, the Rohrwald, which is only a few kilometers from where I grew up.

Razzennest is horror, satire, drama, a ghost story, and a tale of survival told on a very improbable cinematic canvas. Given the political climate in the United States and other Western societies, the film is a necessary reflection on the undead legacy of murderous Christianity.

Enjoy Razzennest while you still can.”

I really don’t want to spoil the surprises inside this movie, but suffice to say the exploration of the horrors of war in the movie within the movie soon spill into the movie we’re watching but yet because it’s a commentary track — again for a movie within the movie, but we’re watching it as a track for a film that could exist — we become more intimately involved, as if we were learning from it as we’ve come to expect. Yet when all hell — heaven? — breaks loose, the commentary becomes the narrative and the film becomes color commentary to what we are hearing.

Trust me. It works.

Now I want to see how Grenzfurthner pulls off a commentary track to this movie.

I watched Razzennest as part of the Burnt Ends films of Fantastic Fest. You can learn more about the movie at the official site.

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